Having a ‘trusted brand’ is now more important than ever


As we move into a post Covid-19 environment, fostering brand trust in innovative ways will become more important than ever – whether you sell a product or a service.

By Michael Mekhitarian. 

Marketers have talked for years about the importance of creating a ‘brand people trust.’ But when Covid-19 hit Australian shores, it became more important than ever…
Why? Because at a time when people were fearful and fragile, they gravitated towards companies they could count on.

A friend I was talking to the other day is an avid Aldi shopper, but switched to Woolworths almost overnight, at the height of the Covid-19 panic, despite the fact this impacted the household food bill significantly (it’s no secret that Aldi is much, much cheaper than the other supermarkets, even though you can tend to go in for groceries and come home with a trumpet and a chainsaw too!). 

The move wasn’t about toilet paper or pasta supplies. Woollies, she said, was quick off the mark with the hand santisers at the entrance, the trolly wipes, the floor markers to denote social distancing and the requirement that checkout staff clean their hands, and any public screens between every customer transaction. Woolworths had these initiatives in place much earlier than its competitors. This gave her confidence that staff and customer safety was a priority.

Policy Holder

In uncertain times, people look for certainty


McDonalds too became a takeaway favourite again, especially for the morning coffee run.  Drive-thru convenience and good coffee, at a reasonable price, with no waiting, served by staff wearing gloves and the eftpos machine at the window had even the most discerning coffee drinkers more than happy to alter their routines swing by Maccas for a caffeine fix.

Honing right in on the needs of busy Mums and Dads, Maccas also started selling some family staples – milk, eggs and muffins – via the drive-thru too, saving their customers a trip to the shops by providing a few items (which they already stock) that can make a meal. 

As we move into a post Covid-19 environment, fostering brand trust in innovative ways will become more important than ever – whether you sell a product or a service.

This isn’t just because what we’ve been through has changed life as we know it (which has had a profound psychological effect on people that should not be underestimated), but also because, for small and medium sized business, garnering customer loyalty is going to be crucial to becoming profitable quickly. 

When the lockdowns ease – the old adage that it’s cheaper to retain a customer than find a new one definitely applies.  

So what’s the secret to building a brand your customers can trust? 

Building brand equity comes down to four simple things:

Creating a 'trusted' brand


  • Communication

Everyone is starting to suffer from ‘Covid-19’ fatigue. We’ve seen and heard enough on the news 24/7. Even so, it’s important to communicate with, and re-engage your customers right now, about what’s going on with your business, when you expect to re-open, and any modifications that are going to come into effect as we all strive to maintain social distancing, and ensure public hygiene to protect health. Make sure you have a two-way process in place – for people to ask questions, to air concerns, to get the information they need. 

It’s also important to be available. People really do get tired of text messages and emails and while they are both time and cost-effective to send, and will, in a post Covid-19 environment, most likely become more prolific as we aim to do more business online, just imagine how delighted a customer might be if you made an actual phone call!

  • Add value 

Consider what your customers want – and need – and how you can meet those needs. Of course, everyone is different. But the standard rule is that most of us do business with companies who offer a reliable product or service at a reasonable price. But – we also place significant intangible value on the interaction we have with that business and its people. How enjoyable is your sales process? There are hidden ways to add enormous intrinsic value to your customers simply in the way you deal with them from the minute they first make contact, to when they pay your invoice. Make it memorable. 

This is especially important if you’re doing business online. Consider imaginative ways to make this impersonal platform personal. 

  • Be consistent 

A lot of businesses make the mistake of cutting corners to chase a little more margin and increase profitability and this might be tempting right now in the rush to get business ‘back to normal’. But …customers notice. Do what you do best, and do it well.

  • Build a long-term relationship 

Communication, adding value, and being consistent are three fundamentals which, when added together, make up the most important component of brand trust, and that is, building long-term relationships with your customers. 

People are savvy, with fairly well-honed BS detectors. So keep it professional, but keep it real. Take time to get to know your customers – you’ll be rewarded when you do. When you open up a genuine two-way dialogue by regularly soliciting feedback, and taking an interest in finding out what your customers want from – and value about – your business, you will not only make all of your customer interaction more satisfying, you will learn useful information that you can use to make your business better. What’s more, when you get to know your customers and clients, you’re in a better position to say something akin to: “Would you like fries with that?”

The classic McDonald’s up-sell is worth billions to the fast-food chain. You can use it too. Knowing your customers means being able to informally introduce them to other areas of your business too, when the opportunity arises.

Having relationships as opposed to ‘transactions’ also gives you an opportunity to build a legion of fans who will be happy to refer friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to your business as well as write testimonials. This ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing goes a long way towards giving you a reputation as trustworthy and also provides new customers who don’t cost you a fortune to acquire.

 

Change is already here


As the lockdowns ease, many businesses are going to be preoccupied with getting up and running. Stabilising cash flow and maximising profitability is crucial for survival, and both should definitely be a priority focus initially, especially for those businesses who have been in hibernation or some form of limited trading.  

But don’t let your focus on the dollars coming in, be at the expense of your client service.  

 

Covid-19 case numbers seem to be declining and all of the conversations being had at a Federal and State government level suggest that plans are underway for some industries to open up sooner rather than later. Now is the time to get focused on what that means for your business, and to start planning ahead

Change is already here, and if your business is going to survive and thrive, you need to embrace it.  

Download our free e-Book, outlining the 5-step process to taking control of your business. This will help you design your strategy. And if we can help, contact us.